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'Titans' 3.01-3.03 review: Barbara Gordon, Red Hood, and Hank & Dove

Toto, I don't think we're in San Francisco anymore...

Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max
(Image: © HBO Max)

Our Verdict

Despite being set in Gotham, the story is interesting and raises the stakes of actions and consequences

For

  • ⭐️ The Titans look amazing together as a team and family.
  • ⭐️ Brenton Thwaites is fantastic as Nightwing - finally figuring out who this character is and was meant to be.
  • ⭐️ Curran Walters shines during these episodes.
  • ⭐️ There are consequences to ones action.
  • ⭐️ The CGI and production values were fantastic.

Against

  • ⭐️ Iain Glen's Bruce Wayne does a disservice to the Batman we knew.
  • ⭐️ The intro to the new Bat-related groups were just fine.

This post contains spoilers for Titans.

The first three episodes of the third season of Titans have finally dropped and there’s a lot to digest. The Titans have come a long way from their humble beginnings and seem to have made a name for themselves in San Francisco. Most of the Titans are accounted for—Dick Grayson aka Nightwing (Brenton Thwaites), Kori aka Starfire (Anna Diop), Garfield Logan aka Beast Boy (Ryan Potter), and Connor Kent aka Superboy (Joshua Orpin). Rachel aka Raven (Teagan Croft) is noted to be at Themyscira, trying to resurrect Donna aka Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie). Hank aka Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dawn aka Dove (Minka Kelly) are doing their own thing. As for the offspring of Deathstroke (Esai Morales), Rose (Chelsea Zhang) and Jericho (Chella Man) are nowhere to be found or even mentioned during the first three episodes. We even see what happened to Jason aka Robin (Curran Walters)—he returned to Gotham. So, where are Rose and Jericho? This was a bit disappointing since Starfire kept mentioning they’re all a family and yet there was no mention of them. Although the problem with the past seasons was that they kept adding new characters before establishing their regulars, Rose and Jericho had established storylines last season and to not even mention them, like Gar mentioned casually that Raven was in Themyscira, is a little disheartening. Still, the Titans that we do see are pretty great and reminiscent of the colorful and funny characters that we have grown to love in the animated series. 

Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Unfortunately, the lives of the Titans are interrupted by the death of their fallen comrade, Jason, at the hands of the Joker. I was impressed with how accurate the series got with Jason’s death to Batman: Death in the Family and his resurrection as Red Hood from Batman: Under the Red Hood. The series even got the infamous scene of Red Hood threatening and bribing the mafia families to pay him for protection from the Batman as well as from the Red Hood himself. They really did a great job with this interpretation of Jason. Walters is so good at appearing weak and in pain, but truly holding a sinister dark side with his disarming smile. As much as I don’t care about Gotham and the Bat-Family, because it has been done many many times, this introduction of the Red Hood story was really intriguing because, in this universe, Jason was a Titan and is now fighting against them. It’s also very different in terms of who is pulling the strings with Red Hood.

Also, with the many deaths caused by Jason, it really raises the bar on the risks and consequences of the Titans’ actions. It’s hard to believe that these characters--some of which are humans wearing body armor--have not been killed these past two seasons. We already can confirm we will see the return of Donna and now Jason. But the death of Hank proves that nobody is invincible. As sad as that death scene was, it was necessary to show that not everyone is safe and that Jason is a very dangerous person. The third episode had my heart racing, which is what I would want from a series. Will they be able to save Hank? How will they save Hank? Would Jason really do this to his old friend? Will Connor make it in time? It’s moments like these that makes you realize that you cannot save everyone. I know this will have a lasting effect on Connor, who was mere seconds from saving Hank. I’m hoping we see how this affects him in the long run. Just like it should affect everyone who cared about Hank.

Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO Max)

The introduction of the other Gotham characters--Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch) and Dr. Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser)--were just fine. I didn’t hate them, but I also did not care for them. I really wanted to feel the chemistry between Barbara and Dick, but I just didn’t feel any. Dick and Babs are my favorite DC couple, but I just did not feel their long and complicated tension between the Thwaites and Welch. As for Scarecrow, I understand they’re trying to do this whole Silence of the Lambs thing on him, but I just don’t buy it. Iain Glen's Bruce Wayne returns this season, but has become a broken man who is completely not like the Batman we've all known from the comics or in media. It's actually really pathetic to see Bruce break his values of killing the Joker (which ruins the whole plot of Under the Red Hood storyline) and run off in hiding. They really need to do better for Bruce. 

The one exception from the Gotham world that I did feel a bit excited for was Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo) because he’s really an adorable character who loves Batman and the Bat-Family. I did appreciate him coming from a Black-Asian household and showing his street smarts when dealing with cops. While he only appeared for a brief scene, Lycurgo played Tim with such charm and coolness. As much as I dislike Glen’s Bruce, I wouldn’t mind seeing Tim Drake have a spin-off somewhere outside of the Titans series.

Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Within the Titans, Thwaites is fantastic as Dick, who now holds the responsibility to take Jason down, since Batman ghosted on Gotham. I feel like this version of Dick just feels free from his identity crisis from the last two seasons and I really like his character growth. Bruce may have told Dick to “be a better Batman”, but new and confident Dick really is just being a good Nightwing and taking down whoever is hurting the city and his friends. I’m looking forward to more of Dick’s leadership in this story.

There were some awesome Easter Eggs in the first episode if you really watched carefully. Bruce had a bunch of teenagers targeted as a potential Robin. Some names like Duke Thomas, Carrie Kelley, Stephanie Brown, and Daxton Chill. If these names sound familiar, they were either a Robin at one point or part of the We Are Robin squad from the comics. So, that was a nice and fun surprise.

Overall, the series has a better grasp on the characters this season and have them bring a little levity to the brooding skies of Gotham, but it’s unfortunate that the focus is mainly on Gotham and not the titled characters. I’m really hoping that this Red Hood storyline will end in mid-season and give us more Titans stories.